The Way I See It
By cj pollick
Pinellas County Commissioners Worried - Pinellas County Commissioners are local politicians that try to avoid controversies. Whenever a major controversy develops, it is not unusual to notice elected officials distancing themselves from the problem or the problematical person.
Welcome to the downward spiral of Jim Smith, Susan Churuti, the county attorney and a host of other county employees who perhaps had a hand in the highly suspect Jim Smith land deal. Churuti has been placed on administrative leave while an investigation is developing, Jim Smith says he will run for re-election, Spratt says he was not told all the information from Churuti (thus was duped), and other county officials wish they had never heard of the Jim Smith land deal.
The county commissioners who knew about this land deal will have re-election problems. Taxpayers will not be happy to learn how their tax funds were spent on this "internal" deal, and the county commissioners who might have been involved in the mess will have election issues. That is why some of the elected officials are speaking-out against Churuti, Spratt, and others at this time. It is called, "Run for cover."
What is amazing about this matter is that it involves some names that have worked in local government for many years. Makes you wonder if there were any other such "sweetheart" deals over the past years that have been buried in dead county files.
All of this makes the common voter wonder about how the $1 billion plus county tax dollars are spent. With property tax issues killing the local real estate market, any form of government waste is unacceptable to most people.
After 20 years on the job, Susan Churuti is suspended and likely out of a job. Jim Smith, a longtime local politician will have a tough time winning re-election, Steve Spratt, the county administrator, may lose his job as well as other county officials. All fall out over a small land deal. Worse. County commissioners who run for re-election will face tough questions about their role, if any, in the land deal.
Amazing how this story has developed to include other county officials.
Pinellas County Commissioners Are On The Right Path - When it comes to tourism, leaders in Pinellas County have offered support whenever possible. Tourism, of course, is Pinellas County's number one business.
Now comes an opportunity for county leaders to allow private developers to build larger hotels instead of mixed-use condominium projects.
More hotels and less condominium projects.
Of course, it does. Larger hotels, say four stories taller, 15 floors instead of 10. A vista problem? Good grief, no. Who can see over one-story homes that dot the coastline. More hotels. Yes, yes, yes.
Gary Brumbaugh Leaving Clearwater For Texas - Assistant City Manager Gary Brumbaugh is leaving his Clearwater position in favor of a city manager job in Texas. This is not surprising news to Clearwater insiders since he had been looking for such a job for several years.
I remember when Gary Brumbaugh was looking for a position in Clearwater government several years ago. He was a gregarious person with a solid military backround. Friendly and outgoing were two beneficial traits of Brumbaugh.
Of course, and as events unfolded in Clearwater, then City Manager Mike Roberto hired another retired military officer, Bill Horne, to help work with city staff issues. Horne replaced Roberto and promoted Brumbaugh to be his right-hand assistant -- where he remained until his recent acceptance of the job opportunity in Texas.
We wish Gary the very best in his new job. His number one quest? Find a loyal right-hand assistant.
Remember Jack Russell Stadium? - City of Clearwater officials are wondering what to do with the soon-to-be vacant 16-acre North Greenwood piece of land that once was a baseball stadium used by the Philadelphia Phillies.
Recent proposals include building condominiums and affordable housing apartments by private developers. Should the city sell the land for affordable housing development? Take city-owned land and put it on the tax rolls?
Sounds like an interesting idea at a time when Clearwater could use more tax revenues.
Coastal Bank May Be Sold - When local Coastal Bank started to try and compete with other larger banks for property loans, it entered a league that even some larger banks are finding problematical. Bad loans are an issue for most lending institutions and Coastal Bank has its problems. The value of Coastal's stock has plummeted to the point where investors appear eager to sell the bank to just about anyone.
Of course, Coastal Bank is not alone with lower "adjusted" financial statement positions. Sub-prime loan rates are an issue that is causing major banks to place billions of dollars in special reserves for bad (non-performing) loans.
What other local banks might be in trouble?
Time will tell, but Coastal Bank is not alone -- there are other lending institutions in trouble.
Look at the stock market, there are more bears than bulls. One article in the Wall Street Journal mentioned the bad loan "fallout" may also involve insurance company investments. (As this column was being written the 10th largest mortgage lender filed for bankruptcy protection.)
Did You Know? - A blue whale's heart can weigh 4,000 pounds.
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